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On its surface, life in Houston in the 1950s is as you'd expect: stoic fathers, restless teens, drive-in movies, and souped-up Cadillacs. But underneath lies a world shifting under high school junior Aaron Broussard's feet. There's a class war between the "haves" and the "have-nots" as well as a real war, Korea, happening on the other side of the world. It is against this backdrop that Aaron comes of age, trying to understand how first loves, friendship, violence, and power can alter what "traditional America" means for the people trying to find their way in a changing world.
When Aaron spots the beautiful Valerie Epstein fighting with her boyfriend, Grady Harrelson, at a drive-in, he steps in. Aaron and Valerie begin dating, but Grady presents a looming problem - as does Grady's father, who has troubling criminal connections. In the middle of it all is Aaron, who seemingly takes care of one threat only to see multiple ones manifest in its stead.
In The Jealous Kind, "modern master" (Publishers Weekly) James Lee Burke creates a singular bittersweet experience that mirrors a larger world on the precipice of great change. As Aaron undergoes his harrowing evolution from boy to man, we can't help but recall the inspirational power of first love and how far we would go to protect the world we know.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By antonio on 09-12-16
An engaging , well written book , but.....
James Lee Burke is an exceptional story teller and a great writer. His characters are chiselled with a powerful style and gusto and move in an evocative southern atmosphere. The plot is around a young man coming of age in '50's Houston when he encounters romantic love, unrestricted violence and the continue dilemma of choices between evil and good. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but, admittedly, there is too much ; the story is too intense for high schoolers who speak like John Wayne in the good old western movies of the 60s. Eventually it doesn't ring true.
Will Patton is outstanding and his reading performance is a pleasure by itself.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Edgar on 09-03-16
The magic combination of Burke and Patton
The Jealous Kind, a novel of over eleven hours, could just as easily have been a short story: the narrative takes place among divergent small groups of teenagers and adults over a few summer weeks in early 1950s Houston. Instead, James Lee Burke has graced us with this beautifully constructed and worded full-length work. Because Burke is one of my two favorite authors (the other, not coincidentally, being Larry McMurtry), I have to admit to bias, but all I can say is that this is not only Burke at his best, but novel-writing itself at its best. I frequently found myself repeating sentences and passages just to take pleasure in the wonderful prose.
On top of this, we also experience Will Paton at his best. He doesn't just read the characters' words, or even just acts them -- he _becomes_ the characters. After listening to many of his previous narrations, I thought he couldn't get any better, but he has, and sets the bar at a new high.
14 of 17 people found this review helpful